Ranking Music Videos Made in Quarantine from Taylor Swift to Fletcher to Conan Gray to Halsey


This post goes with my YouTube video for today featuring my Top 10 Favorite Videos Made in Quarantine (watch it here). In the video, I tried to be narrow about which videos qualified because it didn't seem fair to put a video with a million dancers like "Rain on Me" against a video someone made in their bedroom. I wanted to be true to the magic of the safe, DIY feel of true quarantine music videos, so those bigger videos, even if they were announced to be COVID safe, didn't make the cut.

But I made my family watch a total of 25 videos when we made the ranking, so I figured I'd share our full thoughts here for anyone who didn't get enough in the video. To explain how these rankings came about, I tried to keep it as fair and objective as possible (why? I don't really know. It made it more fun?), so I made my parents watch and rank the videos with me. I had a spreadsheet where we ranked each video between 1 and 10 and then wrote down our thoughts in a second document. We also ranked the songs separately just for fun. These results are based solely on the video (though it's impossible for the song not the influence in some way) and are made from averaging together our three scores. The videos I chose to include in this round were based on release date spanning from the middle of March when we all went inside through the end of August (that's why "Wish You Were Sober" and "Watermelon Sugar" made the cut). If you want to watch all the videos we did in the same order, here's the playlist I made on YouTube: Playlist

These choices are a bit controversial because a lot of the biggest artists wound up towards the bottom. I honestly think this is because there was a lot of creativity that came out of a narrow amount of possibilities for smaller artists who couldn't afford giant, COVID tested sets. A lot of these concepts felt fresher than the larger productions that could rest of normal video tropes. IA lot of the bigger productions just felt a bit ordinary. I also think we gave extra credit to the smaller artists who were making it work. Again, I want to hear what you think too! Chat with me about it in the comments or on Twitter @mslaurenbrice. And don't forget to watch my Top 10 video because, somehow, the way I decided to rank that field wound up with totally different results! I guess I exerted a bit more of my personal influence there in an attempt to shorten the list into a quicker video. Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/6PrDPYMd0vQ or embedded at the bottom. 

17. "Smile" by Katy Perry

Okay, I'm going to be really honest here because I feel like you guys won't be mean about it, but I just couldn't get through this video. The song was mostly to blame on that front, but the video didn't compel me to stick around either. None of us felt the need to watch all the way through. At the end, I just felt sad . Teenage Dream is and always will be one of the most iconic pop albums of all time, and none of her recent projects have lived up to that. 



16. "Daisies" by Katy Perry

We decided to watch both of her recent videos, and we all agreed that "Daisies" is a far better showing than "Smile". The video wasn't super interesting and felt over the top at times. We all got bored after a while. And, even though this is a video, I still want to comment on the song. It frustrates me because it was so close to being good, but the chorus gets caught up in too many empty cliches to make it a song I want to put on my playlist. "Never Really Over" is the only song I've gotten close to clicking with at all this era. Honestly, I think it's Bonnie McKee that helped Katy express herself on Teenage Dream and into songs like "Roar". It was a mistake to decide to stop working with Bonnie, in my opinion. 


15. "House with No Mirrors" by Sasha Sloan

Sasha gets two entries on this list. Her lead single from her new album, Only Child, "Lie" is in my Top 10 video! This is a case where I love the song, but the mime theme of the video just scared me a little. There was so much potential for such a beautifully vulnerable song, and I don't feel like that was realized in the video. If you want to hear more of my thoughts on the song, you can check that out here



14. "Rain on Me" by Lady Gaga ft. Arianna Grande  and "Dishes" by Lauv

These two tied videos couldn't be more different! "Rain on Me" was the most produced, embellished video possible, and "Dishes" might be the most stripped on the list, and they still managed to land in the same place. I'm not a big Chromatica fan, and I honestly prefer "Sour Candy". I'm not a huge fan of either the song or the video. It doesn't feel super original and it's hard to compete against 2010 Gaga, even for Gaga. Like Katy, I probably judge her harsher because I used to love her music so much more. 

As for "Dishes", it was a cute, relatable idea. It really is just Lauv standing in the kitchen with a million white plates piled around him. I would love to know if he owned all those plates already or if they went out and bought them for the video. What happened to the plates after? 



13. TIE "Josslyn" by Olivia O'Brien and "Midnight Sky" by Miley Cyrus 

This was another case of a super cheap video (the quarantine "Josslyn" video was made with a green screen in Olivia's living room) and a high budget video. Somehow, they landed in a similar place because neither held our attention super long. "Josslyn" has some questionably executed TikTok dances and an ever changing screen while none of us loved the new vibe in Miley's video. I think we were all thrown by the hair. We all agreed the mullet should just stay in the past. But I'm glad Miley is happy. I lived for Hannah Montana when I was 8, so she'll always have a place in my heart, even when she's not in my favorite era. My mom pointed out that "Wrecking Ball" would've made an amazing quarantine video, though. 



12. "What They'll Say About Us" by Finneas

It hurts my heart that Finneas wound up so low on the list. My mom and I both tried to find a way to give him a higher ranking, but the video has a lot of spinning and not much else. Also, for some reason, the wet  on the beige suit is just gross to me. None of Finneas's videos are the greatest, and this one fell into the unfortunate pattern. On the other hand, the song is really touching, and I wrote a super long piece about it (including doing a lyrical analysis comparing it to Taylor Swift's "epiphany" that you can read here.


11. "The One" by Fletcher

Fletcher shows up a ton on this list because she's been dropping music videos left and right since August. These all fit the parameters perfectly because they were made almost exclusively with her ex-girlfriend, Shannon. This was our least favorite of the trio we viewed, but I do love how they cut to black on some of the downbeats. I have a more in-depth article about the song and video here.


10. TIE "Love Somebody" by Lauv, "my future" by Billie Eilish, "Ice Cream" by Blackpink ft. Selena Gomez

Number 10 was a three way tie. Again, I have to laugh at how different these three videos are. Lauv (who scored much higher with this in my top 10 video) spends his video standing in a park, hugging a girl, wearing primary colors. Billie went of a fully animated video that ended up being really beautiful (I wrote about it more here), and "Ice Cream" was a super fun, pastel colored ice cream adventure that had the most production of the three. I hadn't seen any of Blackpink's videos before (though I'd heard and enjoyed "Sour Candy"), even though I find them fascinating as a group, and I really enjoyed what they made. 



 



9. "Midnight" by Liam Payne
Liam is arguably the One Direction member that's struggled the most to come up with a solo career. His EP was awful. I'm not going to sugarcoat it because the EP had songs that were straight up offensive. I don't really follow Liam, but by virtue of following the other boys, I hear about him. And I have to admit, his new song "Midnight" is a bit better, even though it still feels like empty pop. I guess I'll take bland over offensive. The video is fun, though. It's a creative using a drone set up inside and outside his house. 



8. "Bitter" by Fletcher
More Fletcher! "Bitter" is one of my favorite songs she's ever released (wrote about it here), and the video was a great introduction to the quarantine videos to come. It has tons of quick cuts and close ups as Fletcher eats different fruits and candies. It's an ironic contrast to the double meaning of "Bitter". 


7. TIE "If I Hated You" by Fletcher and "Sad Girl Summer" Maisie Peters
This is the last Fletcher entry (that we voted on), and it got popularity points from the song and from having fewer cuts than the previous two videos. I also gave her creativity points for turning her parent's living room into a bedroom set. I have more thoughts on the song here
Maisie is the cutest, and the "Sad Girl Summer" just proves that. She got all her friends together on Zoom to have a slumber party of sorts. It was fun and relatable. 


6. "Dynamite" BTS
I also knew way more about BTS than what I'd seen of their actual work. They come up in a lot of the books and articles I read, so I knew how impressive their videos were said to be. "Dynamite" lived up to the hype. Even though the song still wasn't my thing, the video kept me engaged the entire time. 


5. "Cardigan" by Taylor Swift
Taylor is an iconic artist, and "Cardigan" will always be an iconic song. She went full into the Peter Pan vibes with this one. I think my problem with the "Cardigan" video, besides that it only loosely relates to the song, is that I can't get the "Falling" video out of my head when I'm watching it. You can't tell me it's a coincidence that they're both drowning at their pianos in the same year, and no one thought to give Taylor a heads up. I've come to love the mash-up someone on YouTube made more than the video itself. It's a great video with a lot of technical special effects, but like I said with Miley, Katy, and Gaga, I have to hold Taylor against herself. And she makes some of the best music videos of all time. If you want all my Folklore thoughts, find them here

4. "Weird" by Yungblud
This video has so much joy, and the song is the sweet yet realistic assurance we all need. Yungblud can be dark and intimidating sometimes, and I love that this captures his total puppy side. Also this came so genuinely from just his friends and a camera that we had to give them extra points. If you want to learn more about his upcoming album WEIRD! click here

3. TIE "Watermelon Sugar" by Harry Styles, "Be Kind" by Halsey, and "Lie" by Sasha Sloan
How appropriate. Three artists in third place. "Watermelon Sugar" is the first video filmed before lockdown that I added, but when I included "Rain on Me" with all those dancers, I decided I would make an exception for videos that were released during quarantine for the master list (and so I could get to the nice 25 number). This beach day, filled with touching and smiles and the ocean, is just the epitome of joy. I hate the beach, and yet, Harry made me want to put my toes in the Malibu sand and soak up some sun. 
Halsey contemporary danced in an empty warehouse with a robot camera for this video, so she wins on the safety front and is the actual third place finisher in my YouTube video. Halsey is so magnetic that it's impossible to not be happy when you watch her. If you want to read more of my thoughts on "Be Kind", you can find them here.
Then "Lie" tells the most complex story of any of the videos. Sasha delves into internet chat forums and hidden identities as the video pulls a new layer of meaning out of the song. She's even shared that the concept came from her own experiences coping with a failing relationship through finding connections on the internet. Here are my full thoughts on the song and video. 




2. "Modern Loneliness" by Lauv
Like I said in the video, the top 2 were highly contested. If you ask my mom, it could've gone either way. She's probably the biggest Lauv fan in the house (though I was the one who put him on all our playlists in the first place). Anyway, we all loved the song, and the video is so inventive. This was one of the first videos to come out in quarantine, and it's completely made through screen recordings of Lauv's phone. We had an interesting conversation about how surprisingly intimate it is to let someone live in your phone for three minutes. There's peak relatability because he does a lot of opening different social media apps and realizing there's nothing new 'cause you were on them .5 seconds ago. If I was nominating a piece of art to capture what those first weeks of uncertain quarantine were like, I'd send this video to the museum. Also, the song is perfect to get you through isolation. 


1. TIE "Heather" and "Wish You Were Sober" by Conan Gray

Conan can only compete with Conan. Can you see my bias? Oops. But these two videos wound up with the exact same score because every Conan music video delivers and then some. "Heather" was the true quarantine video (and the one I included in the top ten). It was filmed in Conan's apartment with only two other people. It's so beautifully shot and vulnerable to a degree I didn't really believe was possible while also maintaining that level of grace and perfection. The video is art, and that's probably why it won. As open as it is to let people look through your phone, the themes throughout the Heather" video are so powerful, and it takes a lot of courage to showcase them in the way he does. If you want more of my thoughts from when the video came out, here's the link

I included the "Wish You Were Sober" video on the same grounds that I threw in "Watermelon Sugar". Mostly because this was one of my favorite videos of all time and I wanted to watch it again. It's a drunk party scene, but it's so much more than that. It's full of Conan's trademark sarcastic humor and flare for creating irony. The whole thing is so satisfying and relatable, even though I've never been to a house party. And probably never will. 

These two videos got the same score despite being total opposites of each other, and I don't know if I could choose between them. 

*But Wait, There's More*

Honorary Top 3 "Sex (With My Ex)" by Fletcher

This video only came out a couple days ago, but I wanted to put it on the list because it is beautiful and vulnerable and gave me similarly overwhelming feelings as when I saw "Heather". I don't know how the rankings would've turned out if the video had been out when we conducted out research. I didn't want to mess up the *science* by throwing it in, but I want all of you to watch it. I wrote a whole long piece (that Fletcher noticed and called precious!) that you can read here.




And, now, if you want to see a totally different version of these rankings in a Top 10 format, here's my YouTube video for today. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel (link)! I make all kinds of music content including playlists, reactions, and favorites. 


More On Music, Musings, and Me

Fletcher Drops Her Most Beautiful Video Yet

My Thoughts on Olivia O'Brien's "Now" Song and Video

Yungblud's Album Announcement

Harry Styles in Another Movie?





 



 







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